Having entered the ranks of Major League Baseball in 1887, the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the first teams to join the pro ball party, and in a lot of ways, they've never left the dance floor. While the 1979 team's adoption of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" made them a permanent fixture in the minds of fun-loving fans everywhere, the franchise has always been committed to delivering a product befitting its supporters in the Steel City.
Originally known as the Alleghenies, the team was rechristened the Pirates in 1891 after they "stole" second baseman Louis Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics. Nine years later, the name seemed even more appropriate. Barney Dreyfuss, owner of an out-of-commission Louisville club, gained controlling interest of the Pirates and brought 14 players from the departed team with him -- including future Hall of Famer Honus Wagner. The franchise would go on to win the National League pennant in both 1901 and 1902, and the following year took part in the first-ever World Series. Behind the white-hot bat of Wagner, the Pirates won their first world championship in 1909.
The Buccos would capture a second World Series title in 1925, but fans would have to wait 35 years before raising another championship flag. While he had already been on the team for five seasons, outfielder Roberto Clemente emerged in 1960 as one of the best ball players in the game. He powered the team to the Fall Classic that year, and went on to collect 12 Gold Gloves in a row, more than 3,000 career hits, and the 1966 National League MVP award. Clemente was on board for the Pirates World Series victory in 1971, but his career was tragically cut short when he died in a plane crash following the '72 season. From the depths of despair, the Pittsburgh organization and its fans would rise to prominence once again before the decade ended.
Fueled equally by Sister Sledge's hit song and Willie "Pops" Stargell's leadership, the Pirates banded together and won a world championship in 1979. Throughout the year, players were awarded "Stargell's Stars" for their efforts to reinforce the idea that they were a team and in this fight together. As evidenced by the end result, the good vibes paid off.
After 30 years of sharing Three Rivers Stadium with their gridiron counterparts, the Pirates moved into a home of their very own in 2001. A breathtaking coliseum, both in terms of size and scope, PNC Park is often mentioned as a premier destination for baseball fans. Legacy Square, found in left field, pays homage to the proud Negro League roots of Pittsburgh, while the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club offers scores of craft beers and fine food to create a sublime ballpark atmosphere. "It's supposed to be fun," Pops Stargell once said. "The man says 'Play ball,' not 'Work ball.'" With a state-of-the-art park and a spirited legion of fans, it's clear that the Pirates have taken that sentiment to heart.